The Question

In science, my 8th graders identified the topics of their year-long inquiry projects. There is a nice range of ideas including:

  • pH of rain  (Will this prove or disprove the Taiwanese myth regarding acid rain?)
  • amount of mosquitoes / biting midges on campus
  • water quality of the campus pond
  • soil quality of different campus locations
  • seasonal changes of trees
  • amounts of particulate matter in air throughout campus

The process of moving from a topic to a question challenged many students. In general, the questions were quite vague as students struggled with developing a relationship between variables. I attempted a round table discussion where a group presented its ideas and the other students provided items that they wondered about, but I don’t think that much of value was generated. My goal is to generate a culture of questioning and ownership with these projects and this will take time. We’re off to build background at the moment. Students have a bulletin board space outside the class for data and are building web pages. Over the next week or so groups will design procedures and I hope that they are collecting data by mid-September.

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